Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg

Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg

Physical description; x, 610 pages; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Summary; In this magisterial and definitive study, David Nirenberg charts the evolution of anti-Jewish ideas from 1400 BCE to the present day, demonstrating that anti-Semitic tropes have been inherited and refined across centuries. Rather than flaring up at certain times and places, argues Nirenberg, anti-Jewish feeling runs through the entire history of Western thought, and does not even require the presence of Jews in society in order to thrive. A magisterial history, ranging from antiquity to the present, that reveals anti-Judaism to be a mode of thought deeply embedded in the Western tradition.

There is a widespread tendency to regard anti-Judaism – whether expressed in a casual remark or implemented through pogrom or extermination campaign – as somehow exceptional: an unfortunate indicator of personal prejudice or the shocking outcome of an extremist ideology married to power. But, as David Nirenberg argues in this ground-breaking study, to confine anit-Judaism to the margins of our culture is to be dangerously complacent. Anti-Judaism is not an irrational closet in the vast edifice of Western thought, but rather one of the basic tools with which that edifice was constructed.

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